The progress being made on a pair of raptor sculptures which will become a major part of the Desert Shield and Desert Storm Memorial being constructed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was showcased during a private event in Loveland, Colorado on Sept. 16.
Sculptor and U.S. Army veteran Robert J. Eccleston, has been working on the project since 2018.
“This project is a tribute to the valor of our veterans who led and fought alongside a multinational coalition to liberate the country of Kuwait,” Eccleston said. “I hope that this sculpture will stand as a lasting testament to the sacrifices made and the resounding victory that was achieved during this pivotal moment in our history.”
Eccleston is constructing the two sculptures – an eagle and falcon – using molten metal and molds. They will be installed along an inside curve of the memorial.
"Unlike a normal sculpture, I had to learn about how raptors fly and how they think in order to sculpt the eagle and the falcon in a way that expresses that power and leadership of the American bald eagle and the liberation and freedom that represents the saker falcon of Kuwait," he told Denver 7.
Eccleston worked with a local foundation focused on raptors to understand the birds' biology so the sculptures honor both birds to their full extent. That included bringing live birds and their feathers into his studio.
"Ninety percent of the time, you have to go off of photography, so to have a live specimen in front of me — moving around, seeing the volume of the head, how the feathers lay — is invaluable because I can see that and commit to memory as well as take a photograph," he told Denver 7.
The raptor sculptures are expected to be completed late next year or in early 2025, according to the National Desert Storm Memorial Association.
“Robert Eccleston is a remarkable artist; his talent will soon be permanently and prominently displayed in our nation’s capital within the historic National Mall, America’s most visited national park,” said As we prepare to begin construction on the Desert Shield and Desert Storm Memorial, we are NDSMA President and CEO Scott C. Stump.
John Keene, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Colorado, called Exxceston’s dedication and talent in creating the raptors sculpture “truly commendable.”
"Being a Desert Storm veteran myself, I find special meaning in the fact that such an important element of the memorial is coming from my state,” he said.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial was held on July 14, 2022. It is expected to be completed by the spring of 2025.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.